Sherwood Wolf Hunt Rugby League Club bounced back to produce an amazing comeback to win 60-34 at Coventry Bears.
After a 77-0 home thumping at the hands of league leaders Buxton Bulls two weeks ago, the prospect of a long journey to second in the Midlands Merit League Coventry Bears, was somewhat of a daunting task.
In their last meeting the Wolf Hunt narrowly lost 34-26 at home.
This second meeting, and only the Wolf Hunt’s sixth game ever, started terribly for the Sherwood side with the Bears running in three tries within the first 10 minutes.
Sherwood struggled to keep possession of the ball and manage the speed of play, in which the Bears played their fast moving, structured rugby.
Slowly but surely the Wolf Hunt forwards clawed their way into the game, putting more and more pressure on the Coventry try-line, finally reaping the reward 25 minutes in with some ferocious running from Brent Leivers to make the score 22-6.
The Bears, not happy with conceding, came straight back downfield, and cut straight through some weak defence to register more points, making it 26-6.
Some would have been forgiven for thinking the contest as a whole had swayed well in favour of the Bears.
However, with the resulting kick off finding touch, the Wolf Hunt found themselves in a good attacking field position with forwards Saxby, Littlewood and Flynn putting more pressure on the Bears’ defence.
Tempers flared into a brawl on the 35-minute mark, resulting in a sin-binning for the Wolf Hunt’s second row, Dan Littlewood.
This proved to be the turning point in the game as, with renewed focus and some quick thinking from new boy Dan Wilson, the Wolf Hunt posted their second try under the sticks, Lane converting the extras to make it 26-12.
From the resulting kick-off, prop forwards Chris Wright and Shaun Underwood ploughed into the Bears’ defence and, with scrum half James Rockliffe, having arguably his finest game in a Sherwood jersey, managing to find room in the tackle to offload to the supporting Adam Bates, he went over to make the score 26-18 going into the break.
With confidence growing, Wolf Hunt started the second half in the same vein, hooker Glen Holt directing traffic and Gaz Pinnick, Dan Littlewood and Declan Dykes making significant yards into the Bears’ half.
Winger Kalunga Bwalya took advantage of some tired Bears defence to slice right through, racing in from 30 yards.
From a good 15-minute spell Sherwood posted further tries from Bainbridge, Rockcliffe and another from Bwalya to give themselves the lead for the first time in the game.
Centre Mason Hardwick made hard yards throughout, showing great composure to break the line several times to put the Wolf Hunt in good field position
Both sets of forwards continued to rip into each other, resulting in a try apiece, the Wolf Hunt’s coming from a fine individual try by Kalunga who evaded several would-be tacklers using his pace and skill to go in for his second.
Sherwood were now on top and the Bears were struggling to cope with this amazing comeback.
Soon after, new boy Wilson also went in for his brace, slicing right through the middle of the Bears’ pack to go in at the corner.
This effectively ended the game as a contest, and the Wolf Hunt remained ruthless, posting further tries from a training ground move by Bates and Bainbridge and then, soon after, centre Jake Mason crashed through for his second and the Wolf Hunt’s 11th try.
Player-coach Adam Bates said: “This was a real test of character for us today, which the boys passed with flying colours.
“Our forwards were immense, they never took a backwards step and laid a platform for our backs to work the fringes.
“We showed some great attacking ability and desire to win after going 22 points down early on.
“We’ve got some work to do on defence before the next game at home to Derby but we’ll
work hard in training to tidy that up.”
The Sherwood Wolf Hunt are training on Wednesdays at Slant Lane, Mansfield Woodhouse. They can be found on Facebook and contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.